Marek strides off the lift as soon as the doors open on the top floor of Boron’s tower. He crosses the reception and ignores the assistant, who has changed and is now a pretty young woman, as she protests that her boss is busy. Marek rolls his eyes at Boron’s new assistant, not that anyone, including her, can see him do it. He overrides the automatic doors. They slide open much to the surprise of Boron and his two guards, who both look back over their shoulders in shock.

“Hunter, do come in.” Boron offers feigning joy at seeing Marek. Below his façade he is seething with anger. He’ll kill that assistant of his for allowing him entry, maybe not literally but she’ll wish he had, his eyes burning as he looks over Marek’s shoulder at her. Boron’s assistant immediately begins to shrink as she cowers frightened. She knows her bosses reputation and wonders whether she should run. But where can I even run to? She thinks as the automatic doors slide shut, leaving her still standing there terrified even though Boron can’t see her anymore. That is unless he looks to the camera feeds off to his side, which if Marek were not the man in his office he likely would.

Marek stops in roughly the same place he did the last time he was here, but he is very much alone and empty handed. Boron wonders if the bounty hunter has failed. He hopes not, for his own sake. He doesn’t care about Marek, the bounty hunter was never going to get out of this alive anyway, Boron had decided.

“So where is the package?” Boron asks as his eyes look over Marek.

“First things first Boron.” Marek offers seconds before he fires a taser bolt from each of his wrists. Each hits one of the two guards who are immediately and painfully incapacitated.

“What is the meaning of this?” Boron thunders. But Marek ignores him as he walks over to the first guard and kicks him hard in the head.

Boron looks on in shock as Marek crosses to the second guard and kicks him hard in the head to.

“We need to chat.” Marek says as he turns his head toward Boron, whose eyes are wide and locked on the bounty hunter.

Boron though isn’t defenceless as one of his hands is resting on the grip of a slug pistol that he has fastened to the underside of his desk. The barrel of the weapon is pointed toward Marek, though at this distance it would never hit. He will need the bounty hunter to be closer, much closer. Perhaps too close for comfort, he thinks. But only time will tell, he knows.

“Chat, about what?” Boron asks feigning ignorance.

“About the contract.” Marek returns bluntly as he takes several takes towards Boron. The crime lord curses the bounty hunter silently for still being so far away. If Boron didn’t know better he’d say that Marek knows what he’s planning, but he can’t. No one knows about the slug pistol under the desk except for him and his two unconscious guards. Its why on the bounty hunters last visit there had been a slug pistol on his desk in clear view. He’ll have to get replacement bodyguards, much better replacements, maybe some ex-mercenary types. They only care about money and he has plenty of that which he can pay them to ensure his protection.

“What about it? You clearly didn’t complete, so you’re not getting paid.” Boron says confidently as his hand continues to rest on the grip of the slug pistol. A little closer he thinks to himself as Marek continues to slowly approach.

“I don’t want your blood money Boron.” Marek spits back.

“When did hunters become so picky?” Boron asks pretending to be hurt by Marek’s words.

“When human trafficking is involved.” Marek replies as he stares into Boron’s eyes. But the fat crime lord can’t see his eyes, not that it matters to Marek. He knows Boron can feel his gaze on him.

“Ah…whatever do you…” Boron starts, his voice filled with fear which he is trying to mask, and failing, with confidence as his eyes dart nervously. That means Marek knows. Boron hears the voice in his head say. This is bad. This is very bad. Where’s Iris? Where’s the child? He wonders as it dawns on him he can’t kill the bounty hunter until he has the package.

“Don’t play dumb. You knew. I can see it in your eyes. Now tell me the truth.” Marek demands as he leans onto the massive wooden desk.

“Fine. Here it is.” Boron says as he squeezes the trigger of the slug pistol. A single shot fires with a bang but does nothing to Marek.

Instead, the heavy round simply ricochets off his armour plating before lodging itself into one of the sofa cushions. The feathers inside the cushion burst into the air, quickly reaching their summit before starting to float down slowly.

Boron is in shock. He can’t believe Marek is still standing before him, unharmed. He wonders how that can be as he starts to push himself back. Maybe he can escape, he thinks as he tries to get up from his chair. But Marek is already vaulting the wide desk. He kicks the fat crime lord off his feet and back into his chair. Boron feels the force of the impact knock the air from his weak lungs as he starts to cough loudly. The coughing is wet and disgusting but Marek pays no mind as he looms over the fat man now.

“Don’t hurt me, please. I didn’t know. Honest.” Boron lies as he holds his hands up.

Marek doesn’t believe him, not one bit as he pulls back his gauntleted fist and then throws the punch. His fist slams into the crime lords’ enormous gut. Boron exhales sharply and audibly sure that another such impact could result in Marek’s fist bursting through his skin allowing the bounty hunter can grab his intestines.

“Truth. Now!” Marek thunders as the faceless helmet peers into Boron’s soul.

The crime lord hasn’t felt fear for a very long time, but he feels it now and he can’t control it. It conjures memories of when he’d been a boy on this station, his station, and had to do runs for the previous crime lord. He’d been a dull old man, too focused on honour and respect to be efficient. And in the end that is how Boron had pried Station Beta-3’s control out of his cold dead hands. He’d used the old crime bosses need for honour and respect against him by tricking him into eliminating all Boron’s adversaries. That had left old Jace with no allies, no real ones at least, but the old fool hadn’t seen it until it was too late and Boron’s fat hands were round his throat choking the life out of his old frail frame. It brings a smile to his face even now to think of how he bested the former boss of this installation. Jace had been feared and respected in equal measure. Boron on the other hand had made sure his reign had been fear through and through. He has never cared about the respect of others, as he has no respect for them. He wonders now if that has been his undoing.

“Iris was the target. I needed her for what she carried.” Boron offers vaguely.

“I know what she was carrying. I want to know why.” Marek thunders again as he raises his fist to strike again. This time he’ll aim for Boron’s fat face, he decides.

“You know!” Boron exclaims in shock moments before Marek’s fist slams into his face. His crooked nose is crushed beneath the might of the armoured fist and Boron howls in agony, cursing as he does so.

But Marek pays no attention to the fat man’s cries of pain and curses, which he is sure the curses are meant for him. He only wants answers.

“I needed her for a deal. Iris ran away from someone very powerful and I helped her. When this party found out I was given the choice to get her back or suffer the consequences. I chose the former.” Boron says blurting the truth now as his hands cup his damaged face.

“Keep going.” Marek demands not yet satisfied.

“Why? What does it matter? You failed. The package is gone.” Boron roars.

“The baby is fine.” Are the only words Marek can manage as he tries to keep his anger in check.

By now Iris will be ash, which means he hopes she can find peace. No one will be able to touch her as he left her body where she died, atop Sameena’s desk, before settings fire to the cantina, just like he promised he would.

“Where is it? I need it.” Boron urges.

“No you don’t.” Marek reassures Boron, who suddenly realises the bounty hunters intention.

“You bastard!” Boron exclaims.

“Do it. End me. But know that you will never be safe. You will be hunted across the systems ‘til the day you die.” Boron spits with venom as he smiles with brutality and pleasure. He knows what fate awaits Marek, and its one he will never survive.

“Who is the client Boron?” Marek asks unfazed by the crime lords threatening words.

Boron motions for Marek to come closer just as he gets his other hand on a blade hidden between rolls of his fat. He smiles wildly sure Marek has failed, even as he pulls the knife to plunge it deep into Marek’s neck.

“Helena.” Boron mutters as he goes to stab Marek, but Marek grabs and crushes the fat man’s hand, who responds by roaring in agony. As he roars Marek drives one of his shock blades into Boron’s right eye. The fat man convulses and twitches as blood pours forth and trickles down his damaged face.

Marek steps back releasing his grip on Boron’s knife wielding hand, the digits of which are at odd angels, as the arm drops away, limp. Marek then reaches under the desk, grabbing the slug pistol which he levels at the crime boss. He holds for a few seconds and then fires a single shot. The boom is loud and echoes about the room. But the bullet hits its mark and punches a hole through the centre of Boron’s forehead. Marek he sure that Boron was already dead, but this assures it.

Marek feels nothing for the man as he stands there, he doesn’t know for how long. What he does know is that it’s been a long time since he last killed anyone.

An incoming call light starts to flash from its housing on Boron’s desk.

Marek takes the call. He doesn’t know who it is, but maybe it’s this Helena he mentioned just before he died. Then again maybe it isn’t. Either way he’ll soon find out, he thinks.

“Hello Marek.” The female voice says as Marek stares back in disbelief, his face still hidden beneath his helmet.

Before him is the face of a woman he knows very well. Though, it’s been a long time since he last saw her tanned skin, black hair and green eyes.

“I take it Boron’s dead?” The woman asks.

“And the package?” The woman asks without waiting for Marek to answer. She knows Boron is dead and doesn’t need the bounty hunter to confirm it.

“Yasha.” Is all Marek manages.

“No. Yasha’s dead. I’m Helena, head of the Syndicate crime family now.” The woman Marek knew as Yasha fires back defiantly. She’s answered who this Helena is, but still he can barely believe his eyes.

“Surprised?” Yasha then adds with a smile.

“This is all you?” Marek queries.

“Of course. Now give me my prize.” Yasha barks with a snarl.

“What happened to you?” Marek asks.

“None of your business. Now give me that package…or suffer.” Yasha says through bared teeth. Her top lip twitching angrily as she speaks. Especially when she says the word suffer, which she emphasises and elongates menacingly.

“You know I can’t do that.” Marek denies.

“You’ve gone soft.” Yasha barks.

Marek shakes his head as he sighs. He knows what will come next and so does Yasha.

“You know the Union code Yasha. Anyone conducting human trafficking via a bounty hunter will themselves become the bounty to be hunted.” Marek says quoting one of the codes of the Union.

“The package isn’t even human.” Yasha fires back defensively.

“That package is a baby Yasha. So if it’s not human, what is it?” Marek questions.

“Property. My property.” Yasha declares angrily. She hates Marek with every fibre of her being. He abandoned her when she needed him most and all for some creds.

“A child isn’t property Yasha!” Marek exclaims.

“You know nothing of what that child is. It is mine. From my blood. It belongs to me.”

“The child belonged to Iris.” Marek fires back.

“Bastard! She was nothing. She was a vessel. Nothing more. I am the child’s mother!” Yasha argues.

“No. You’re just a monster. Just like Meena.” Marek says shaking his head.

“And it’s all on you Marek. You left us. You walked away. We had to do whatever was necessary to survive.” Yasha roars accusingly as memories of his betrayal play out in her mind. The wounds are as fresh as the day they occurred.

“Murder? Trafficking? Torture? You really aren’t Yasha anymore.” Marek says admitting the woman he knew is gone and in her place there is only hate, anger and violence masquerading as a person. He knows the reputation of Helena and the Syndicate. They’re a massive network of criminal activities and factions spread across the galaxy that have banned together. But they aren’t unique, or even the largest of their ilk. They are simply the newest and currently the most violent. Growing their base of power through pain, terror and suffering. The woman Marek had known would never have been a party in such things, let alone been its master.

“You don’t know how we suffered!”

“Then you can tell me in person cause I’m going to end this.” Marek says with finality.

Before Helena can respond he ends the call and disables the system. He knows his fight is far from over, but first he’ll need somewhere to hide the child.

Marek leaves Boron’s office, he knows he’s created a power vacuum aboard the station, but it’s of little concern to him right now. He passes the assistant, who peaks her head into Boron’s office to find him dead and at the sight explodes into a panic of terrified screams. The lift doors close with Marek inside moments before the lift begins to descend back toward the streets of Station Beta-3, and ultimately Ravensclaw. He knows he has to get off this station and fast. But where can he take the child? Maras, there’s a convent there after all. Its secluded, out of the way, rarely visited. He’d done work in that system before, a long time ago; they owed him a favour or two. Maybe it’s time to cash in, he thinks as the lift continues to descend.

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